Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I thought I'd post the speech that Ray Bradbury gave when he received his Humanitas Award ... seems like a good day for it.

Dear Lord,

Help us to remember the gift of excellence that lies within us if we but call and bring it forth. Help us to recall that in excellence is surprising profit, for the soul, for the mind, and for life that we live, beside that soul and with that mind, help us to know that only in our loves can we create and out of that creation, change some stray, small part of the world we touch.

Remind us to know that the more we create out of love an idea, the better our work, our lives, our influence becomes. Tell us again, for we forget that work done without love is stillborn, mindless and lost in the very hour of its deliverance.

Help us to love ideas, and the creation, even as we love our neighbors and because we are proper creators ourselves. Tell us to lie down with that one inescapable person, our lovely selves, knowing that if the work of the previous day was a surprise of joy we stumbled upon through curiosity, true need and rare zest, and the energy that comes from wild discovery. We are good company for the night.

Teach us not to hesitate atop cliffs but to leap into our writing without wings. And teach us with passion and love, how to build wings on the way down, hoping for a soft landing.

We ask these things because poor creatures that we are, we do forget, and must remind ourselves, as you remind us that love is the final answer and excellence its hallmark and profit, which is peace of mind, its everlasting residue.

Please Lord hear this, amen.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Calmly marching off the Precipice

I was talking to a guy recently who claimed he was a writer – something a lot of people do, unfortunately.  He works security at my place of business.

I heard in passing that he was a writer, and when I asked him he told me it was true, but he hadn’t written anything in two years, saying that he was not in the right ‘environment’ for it.

Now, to those reading this it sounds like an excuse, but it’s not.  By ‘environment’ I knew exactly what he meant, and it’s not a padded cell, it’s not a secluded island near Fiji, nor is it a commune in northern California where you meditate and eat granola every day and write random thoughts down and study your Ka; it’s about having the right ‘people’ around you.

I’ve often been stultified by the persons that surround me – many just average citizens with no interest in creative thought. It’s not a knock, it’s just how it is.  And if you’re a writer or an artist or any kind of Imagination-based creature, you know the feeling.  You have all these ideas in your head, popping, crackling, waiting to burst forth, and so you look for a receptive ear.  When there are none around and you’re left with your crazy thoughts all to yourself, you start to feel dulled; like a knife being raked against concrete.

But this security guard, upon talking to me about writing, brightened a little.   I gave him one of my stories and he took it, said he’d read it a few times to get all the nuances out of it.

When I talked to him on his next patrol, we began a discussion about my story.  He began pacing the floor, eyes to the ceiling, talking about writing.  And I knew; this guy is a real writer.  I recognize the latent mania, the nervous movement, the insane desire to get thoughts down, to write stories.

I figure that’s why having a writing community is so important.  I mean, who wants to go it alone, anyway?    What fun is that?  I’ve always secretly longed for those Kerouac days, when the local writers and artists gathered in coffee shops and discussed stories, ideas, the nature of the universe and so on.  It makes you feel part of something, a movement; a movement of writers, actually.  Like a flight of birds soaring together.

And then I met another writer at work, Alberto.

The passion that this man displays when he talks writing and literature is astounding. He tells me he’s read over 1000 books, written 200 stories.

This time it was MY turn to pace the floor.  When hearing him discuss the craft and how he loves it I instantly wanted to bolt out the door and get home to my office and write.  The feeling is infectious.  A kind of electric charge hits your ass.

And so, I now have a small posse of creative writers with which I may cavort and share ideas.  Maybe it’ll come to nothing, maybe it’ll lead to something.  I know that since I met these two my production has increased – I’ve averaged about a story a week, although that could also be attributed to Ray Bradbury’s admonishment ‘Write 52 stories a year. You can’t write 52 bad stories, can you?’

And also, no one else is going to do this for me, so I have to kick my own ass, as physically impossible as it is.  If I waited for a lightening bolt to the temple I’ll be an old man before I get anything published.

So calmly I go marching off the precipice.   Would you like to come with me?

Unrelated Madness:

Check out Bloggo David || Recent posts: The Extraordinary Life of Inanimate Objects and The Old Man in waiting

Friday, August 31, 2012

Let's Write Some Creepy Stuff this October

I'm opening up the Campfire Pages in October to anyone who wants to share a scary story. Just DM me on twitter at @TheWritersDen, or leave a message in the comments section below. Don't send attachments in your email, just cut and paste the story into the message box. Oh, and keep it at 2000-4000 words or less; and make it scary... so scary it'll make Stephen King's toes curl with fear!

 If you have a funny or even campy Halloween story, that's great too ...

Hoping to hear from you soon. I'm off to write some scary stuff....

Note: If it's a really great lengthy story, I'll consider posting it in parts.   If you have a story posted on your own site and want to post a link instead, that's okay too. 

Get Scribbling!

Monday, July 9, 2012

David Rants about Books. Cover your Eyes.

It happens every Sunday; I take a lazy afternoon walk to the Goodwill store down the street to see what they have in their book department, and I spend an hour or so poking through them, mulling, considering, and finally deciding.

By deciding I mean I stand there with an arm full of books and wheedle them down to two or three. I flip through them again and again, trying to choose the ones to leave behind. This is never easy; today I left behind East of Eden, The Poisonwood Bible, and An Elmore Leonard novel called Stick. I even abandoned a Frank McCourt book called Teacher Man. Why, you may ask? Why not just get ‘em all? They're all discounted.

It’s my shelf at home; still full of books, some read, some not. Some half-read. They are jilted lovers. Yes, guilt assails even book readers.

Of course reading an Elmore Leonard novel sounds exciting, but what about that Karen Blixen novel still left unread? It was a Pulitzer winner for crying out loud! And Empire Falls? Richard Russo also won a Pulitzer for that. All wonderfully well-written books, waiting to love me and entertain me.

And you’d besmirch their good names by cheating on them, getting more books to read, new and sexy books, when you haven’t finished the ones you already have? For shame, my brain yammers.

But this is book love. Freakish book love. Dare I say, freakish book love/hoarding.

And don’t talk to me about ‘getting rid’ of books. I’ve tried that, and I end up parting with one, maybe two books, mostly Dan Brown novels or anything by John Grisham. The Steinbecks and the Fitzgeralds have been cemented in place. I tried moving them once and broke three fingers.

The truth is, I like books. Shelves full of them. Hell, I’d fill an entire ROOM with them if I could, but I only have an apartment with limited space and a minimalist roomie who shuns clutter (practiced in the art of Feng Shui) so I have to be conservative. And forget libraries; every time I take books out (Like ‘Catch 22’) I never bring them back. I get too attached. How could I take that book back after all we’ve been through? We went to bed together! Let someone else’s hands touch your pages? I’d rather die (Somewhere, a retired Librarian is still seething about that copy of Cannery Row that I never returned in 1993).

As for e-Readers, I understand thousands of books can be stored in one. That’s wonderful. Marvelous. But Curling up in bed with a hard piece of plastic ain’t my idea of comfortable. I love the soft squish of paper, the physical turning of a page, the smell of old ink and pulp. Even NEW ink and pulp.

I’m not a backwards Grinch, I do have an e-Reader. I am not anti-tech. I take it to work with me, on the bus, the doctor’s office. A lot of places. I even turn it on occasionally.

The funny thing is, I keep downloading new books without finishing the ones already on there, the jilted ones.

Guilt assails even an e-Reader reader.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

In Short: Niel Gaiman Sums Up Writing

 “It's a weird thing, writing.

Sometimes you can look out across what you're writing, and it's like looking out over a landscape on a glorious, clear summer's day. You can see every leaf on every tree, and hear the birdsong, and you know where you'll be going on your walk.

And that's wonderful.

Sometimes it's like driving through fog. You can't really see where you're going. You have just enough of the road in front of you to know that you're probably still on the road, and if you drive slowly and keep your headlamps lowered you'll still get where you were going.

And that's hard while you're doing it, but satisfying at the end of a day like that, where you look down and you got 1500 words that didn't exist in that order down on paper, half of what you'd get on a good day, and you drove slowly, but you drove.

And sometimes you come out of the fog into clarity, and you can see just what you're doing and where you're going, and you couldn't see or know any of that five minutes before.

And that's magic.”

~ Niel Gaiman

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

An Evening With Ray Bradbury || 2001

 Science fiction author Ray Bradbury regales his audience with stories about his life and love of writing in "Telling the Truth," the keynote address of The Sixth Annual Writer's Symposium by the Sea, sponsored by Point Loma Nazarene University. Series: Writer's Symposium By The Sea ...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

 We all do it. We sit down at the desk, turn on the computer, stare at the cursor (It should be spelled CURSE-or, actually …) and then start fiddling with things around the desk: pencils, paper clips, staplers, etc. Then we usually get up and go to the fridge because all that sitting and staring produces hunger enzymes. 

So if we are going to procrastinate, let’s do it right: 

• If you REALLY want to waste time, log on to Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus. I know you think it helps get work done, but no. It doesn’t. 

• For added exercise, stock your fridge with expensive ice creams, for those days when nothing’s going on via the blank page. This will not help with your work, but ice cream is always a good thing, and a couple of jogs to the kitchen every ten minutes won't kill you. 

• Write near a window. This way you can crane your neck to see the attractive neighbor, watch people cross the street, or check the weather every few minutes. 

• The radio: blasting AC/DC or NPR will probably only fry your nerves, but it’s a good distraction from that shitty scene you are writing. 

• Keep your cell phone close. You never know when someone annoying may call about something stupid and throw you off your rhythm completely.  Having chats with best friends about everything and nothing is often very useful in this regard; or even  random calls to people you barely have time for on a day to day basis.

• For pure procrastinative effect, always have your cute dog in the room to play with, or yell at. Having loud friends over produces the same effect. Whichever floats your boat.

• Start flipping through old useless projects – they start to look pretty good after the sewage you’ve been currently writing. Then close your current WIP and start working on the old one. This always induces mass time wastage! 

• The internet: oh yes. Always have it on. Always check if you have messages. Always always always. For pure time-screwage, this is key!

• Start dusting your office – because you think this will clear away the cobwebs and you’ll start a sentence soon after. Usually this only induces sneezing and spasmodic coughing and self-loathing.

• Start writing a blog post about how you waste time procrastinating by writing blog posts. 

• Always have a television nearby. This will maximize your no-work ethic. Tell yourself you need a break and watch a little Jersey Shore for renewed perspective. Make sure the TV is facing directly at you, or placed so you can see it with little effort. Volume must always be at mid or upper-mid-range to maximize distraction.

• Start reading a book. Preferably a recognized classic so you’ll really get that self-doubting engrained!

• Cookies, crackers, peanuts must always be within reach. And a Rubik’s cube. Hell, keep a Paint-by-Numbers set handy!

• Go do your laundry. Because clean clothes might help the old synapses start firing! This works with showering, as well. You might want to wash your hands every ten minutes, too. Fingernail clipping is recommended, especially when you stare at your own fingers for too long and get disgusted.

• Get showered, dressed, grab a pen and paper, head downtown to your favorite coffee shop, order a Triple Mocha Frappucino and a Biscotti, find a cozy spot in the back, and then start chatting with the waitress or whoever is around because your mind is completely distracted by all the activity. This is usually the best way to avoid looking at your manuscript for extended periods of time.

• Lastly, if you truly want to avoid writing for the day, watch ‘Road House’ with Patrick Swayze. This will make you wonder why your manuscripts have been rejected and this got made into a major motion picture starring Ben Gazzara, thus sending you into a self-doubting tailspin. (Note: this may work conversely – it may make you believe you are Shakespeare in comparison, which is a good thing)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

(A Positive Affirmation)
By David Hunter

 "I have another 365 days to be a writer and I’m going to bloody well enjoy it!"


  January 1, 2012.

I’m sitting at my desk looking at that date and it looks like it came right out of a science fiction novel. I have to admit, it makes me uneasy knowing that this might be the last year of our existence, if you believe some moldy old calendar created 2000 years ago by a group of toga-wearing perverts is accurate. Me, I think the world will plod along just fine, thanks.

 I've heard this all before. When the calendar changed over to 1980, the same type of crack-pots came out of the wood-work and declared that the world would end and that California would sink into the Pacific Ocean, and the same types wandered out to the desert to perform mass suicides because they just couldn’t face the end of it all.  Boy howdy!

I guess the joke’s on me if the Mayans were right (but what did they know, they didn’t even have internet!)

As far as I’m concerned it’s business as usual. I have another 365 days to be a writer and I’m going to bloody well enjoy it!

Positive Aspects about the End of the World 

You won’t be able to avoid the election in November, but you can avoid tax season next year!

Run up your credit card bills. Who cares? Buy those Ronco Veggie-Smooshers by the truckload.

Let’s hope the Mayans were a little off on their calculations and the END comes during the telecast of the Oscars. Or the Super bowl Halftime show.

You know those cheesecakes you pass in the grocery store? The ones you eye ruefully? The ones you sniff at and say things like ‘I don’t need it’? Load up! It’s party time!

Now is the time to experiment with crop circles on your front lawn.

Nothing like a good para-sail off the roof of your local city hall!

Now you can build that 16 foot fence around your house to piss off the nosy neighbors. By the time it gets to court we’ll all be vapor.

You can now tell everyone EXACTLY what’s on your mind, at EXACTLY the most inappropriate times (which should make for some interesting dinner parties.)

Remember how you’ve always fantasized about mowing the lawn in your birthday suit?

Social filter? Out the window! (See above)

Finally, something will stop the Rolling Stones from performing 'Start Me Up' anymore!

All the best in the new year! And thank you for choosing The Writer's Den! 

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